City Guidelines in Google Maps

In the Google Maps world, it’s pretty-well known they’ve had Mapspam issues and at least now (arguably) tries to keep very strict guidelines including using your exact physical address, as is.

There are some marketers who suggest using multiple PO boxes in different cities for one single location. Google may frown on this as “people have used this to spam the local listings to get them closer to the city center”. Maybe the 0 of 2 folks who find this particular answer helpful are guilty?

Disclaimer – I don’t know who the user andyhugh is in this answer.

Google Maps Answer

Google Maps Answer

Anyway, there’s an example I haven’t thought of much. I was speaking with the owner of SOS Appliance Repair of Minneapolis. Technically, the business is in Golden Valley. However, their DexKnows profile page shows their correct physical address and zip, but with Minneapolis as the city. So does Yelp.

Companies have been practicing this long before the Internet for branding purposes alone. A lifetime ago, I worked for a company in the western suburb of St. Louis Park and the yellow pages providers listed their official street address and zip code. The city just changed to Minneapolis. Again, they did this for branding purposes. We’ve all probably seen this many times.

To my knowledge, SOS hasn’t added their business to the Google Local Business Center. If they did, I bet it would be just fine if they used Minneapolis as their official city location. It may or may not help for their Google Maps listing but doubt it would hurt.

Any thoughts out there and do you think this helps or hinders your Google Maps business listing?

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9 Responses to City Guidelines in Google Maps

  1. Aaron Weiche says:

    I think the “centroid” or proximity to the center of the city has passed as a quality factor, so trying to game that is a waste.

    For me, using Minneapolis when you are direct suburb is not an issue. I think it benefits the user by giving them more results in an area. Most people IMHO, when doing a search would rather have more choices to pick from and determine the distance they want to travel to do business.

    So if it’s good for the user, I would think Google would not penalize the business.

  2. Paul Jahn says:

    Thanks Aaron. For SOS, it’s good for the user as they do service across the metro.

    I’m admittedly not a fan of using PO boxes or UPS stores for addresses. If the “centroid” has passed as a quality factor, I can only hope it’s not because of people trying to game the system.

  3. Dave Oremland says:

    1. the local business record is claimed by the business.
    2. The business is not currently ranked first in maps for appliance repair, golden valley, let alone Minneapolis.
    3. It ranks in the 7pac for appliance repair golden valley but not for appliance repair minneapolis.

    btw Northland appliance ranks first for the phrase in golden valley, and 6th in the 7pac for the appliance repair phrase in Minneapolis. Northland has its town name as the suburb, Crystal.

    I haven’t looked at the site or all the efforts to optimize for maps, or compared it to Northland but I’d suggest there is a lot that can be done without changing the town name.

    I suspect centroid matters somewhat, but there appear to be a lot of contendors/competitors out there and probably there is a lot of maps oriented optimization that is being done knowingly or not…so that SOS needs some effort done on their behalf if they wanted to get into the Minneapolis 7 pac along with the Golden Valley 7pac.


  4. Julie Kosbab says:

    Some of it isn’t 100% manipulation.

    If you put my street address and zip code into any standard shipping form (e-commerce), they will insist that my mailing address is Minneapolis.

    It is so NOT. Not with an address between 98th and 99th Streets. Yet, this insists upon that. I believe large sections of GV and Edina will produce similar result.

  5. Paul Jahn says:

    Thanks for the comments Dave and Julie.

    Dave, thanks and you gave some great input. The owner’s a smart guy and am not surprised he claimed his LBC listing. I’ll have to check it out. I haven’t looked at Northland either.

  6. Hi Paul,

    I absolutely despise this kind of manipulative MapSpam and am a little disappointed that Google has not taken a more active role in eliminating it. The centroid issue is a little bothersome as well. Your Minneapolis/Golden Valley client is a good example of this not working correctly. I understand that by using this distance from center algorithm in their map listings they are bringing more LBLs to the top over a greater area, but the downside is that local businesses in metro suburbs are losing exposure.

    Also, there was a YOUmoz post a while back on the multi-box tactic where the author looked on it as a very favorable strategy. I however did not share his point of view. The comments of this post are worth reading through and some of them remind me of sheep following the flock.

  7. Paul Jahn says:

    Checked out that seomoz article James and kudos to you for calling out the BS! That’s simply awesome. The whole multi-address, UPS store address tactics are ridiculous… and spammy.

    I think the Minneapolis/Golden Valley thing is a bit different. Lots of suburban businesses have their correct street address and zip but have Minneapolis or St. Paul as the city. I see this more for national branding. Whether that helps local listings or not, I really don’t know or have an opinion.

    BTW, in that whole thread, I saw the word “analytics” only once and it was from you. 🙂

  8. Dave Oremland says:

    As a business owner I didn’t have terrible problems w/ that old moz article. If I’m very hungry for business there are two issues: Expand your reach via G Maps versus being dropped by G maps. Take your risks. I haven’t had to apply that strategy…but I wouldn’t criticize those that do…(unless they were my competitors):D

    Back to the SOS situation. In that Northland is in the 7pac for both Golden Valley AND Minneapolis for the phrase appliance repair and has used its accurate suburb town name, “Crystal”…it simply suggests that neither SOS needs to do that…and its not necessary to get into appropriate 7 pacs around the region with ample maps SEO work.

    If I were working on this, I’d start w/ analytics. What are the appropriate search phrases that drive traffic to the business/industry. I’m sure there are a number of appropriate phrases.

    Then it becomes a process of adding G Maps ranking juice to get the business in appropriate and diverse 7pacs throughout the region.

    The simple answer to the original question though, seems to be that SOS doesn’t need to use Minneapolis in its address description.

    My own experience is that significant work generating diverse G Maps juice works. It takes a lot of work–but if the business relies a lot on search to generate business its well worth it.

  9. Paul Jahn says:

    SOS would be happy to see the nice attention they’re getting. Thanks for all the comments!

    For being risky in G Maps is up to the business I suppose. All I know is if I travel somewhere and need flowers, chiropractor in a hurry (has happened) or tire patched I don’t want to be steered to a UPS store.

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